Climate change is the long-term trend toward warmer temperatures and changes in climate patterns. This change has impacts on all parts of Earth, including our climate, ecosystems and our economy.
Global warming is caused by greenhouse gases produced by human activities, such as burning fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas). Greenhouse gas emissions trap heat from the sun in the atmosphere. As global temperatures warm, the amount of energy trapped by greenhouse gases increases.
Over the last century, Earth’s average temperature has risen about 1 degree Celsius over pre-industrial times. This rate of warming is unprecedented in the history of the planet.
Changing weather and temperature are linked to the presence of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which prevent heat from escaping into space. These greenhouse gases are primarily carbon dioxide and methane, released from burning fossil fuels, deforestation, agricultural activity, volcanic eruptions and other human activities.
Because they absorb more heat, greenhouse gases warm the Earth more quickly than other natural processes. The climate system is a complex and dynamic process that constantly shifts and reacts to changes in the Earth’s environment, including natural and human activities.
Some climate experts believe that the warming caused by human activity is already at an unprecedented level and will continue to increase over the coming centuries. In the meantime, it is important to understand that global warming can have significant impacts on the health of people and their ecosystems.
The consequences of climate change include increasing risks of severe weather events, such as floods, droughts and storms; decreased water availability; increased crop loss from pests; and damage to infrastructure. In addition, the oceans, the source of most of the life on Earth, are heating up and becoming acidic.
Almost all scientists agree that climate change is occurring and is due to the action of humans. They also know that if emissions of greenhouse gases are not reduced, temperatures will continue to rise.
Droughts: The frequency, intensity and duration of droughts are expected to increase in many regions as a result of global warming. They can cause food shortages and lead to population movements.
Loss of vegetation: The loss of forests, grasslands and wetlands is expected to occur in many parts of the world as a result of climate change. This could have profound effects on wildlife and ecosystems, affecting their survival and productivity.
Animal and plant populations will likely adapt to these new conditions, but some species may become endangered or extinct. These changes will also stress our ecosystems, which is harmful to the health of everyone on Earth.
The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently urged rich countries to slash their greenhouse gas emissions by nearly two-thirds by 2035. It said this would help avoid the worst of climate change’s future harms.